The Nepal Digest - Aug 7, 1994 (24 Shrawan 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Sunday 7 Aug 94: Shrawan 24 2051 BkSm Volume 30 Issue 2

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********************************************************************** Date: Thu, 28 Jul 1994 14:57:52 EDT From: Subject: latest nepal book

Latest Book on Nepal


by Pradyumna P. Karan and Hiroshii Ishii with collaboration from

Masao Kobayashi Mohan Shrestha Chakramehr Bajracharya David Zurick

Cartography Gyula pauer

published by Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa,
(ILCAA), Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Monumenta serindica No. 25 1994

I know many netters in scn and tnd are actively trying to keep up with Nepal both for personal interest and professional interest. And no subject is of the broadest interest as the subject of development and change of Nepal. This book is of potential interest to all interested in contemporary nepal.

This book has the added relevance of being the most uptodate book on Nepal, being published in 1994 and includes post-revolution perspectives of 1989-1993 as well recent data of 1991 census and studies done inlate 1980s and early 1990s.

Written by a geographer (karan) and an anthropologist (Ishii), the books explicit purpose is to "provide and outline of some of the crucial issues facing the country and to explore how the social sciences can contribute to their understanding and management".

It is also significant that the book is written by two Western scholars who have had a long history of introducing Nepal to the West in general. Many in the English speaking West have got their first glimpse of Nepal from Karan's widely cited 1960 book, "Nepal: a Physical and Cultural Geography." Karan is also leading a major, nearly million dollar project to assess environmental history of the Himalayas for all Himalayan districts for the last 100 years. This book is, therefore, likely to be a major optic through which the West both the Whites and japs view Nepal, its problem and its opportunities; this would likely affect the flow, direction, and quantity of aid that flows into the country.

The book is organized into 11 chapters. Subjects covered include the Political Economy and History prior to 1950s and from 1951-1993; Environmental and Natural Resource Base; Land Use, Forest Cover and Environmental Problems; Agriculture patterns and problems; Population growth and migration patterns; cultural patterns including contemporary debates of "Parbate hindu dominance and influence, urbanism, caste and ethnic groups, education, universalism, and foreign influences"; Settlement patterns and urbanization; Industrial development; Transport and trade patterns;Tourism; and Development challenges.

In short, the book is an excellent reference book on a wide variety of of development issues and database that could be profitably bought for keeps.

In its chapter on "Development Challenges" the authors give away their ideological stand : moderate liberalism. They conclude for instance that the development challenges are a) sustainable development and conservation; b) integrating poverty alleviation in development strategies; c) integrating population in development planning.

The book is replete with the liberal political philosophy's footprints; the improvement in government's social welfare delivery system and the control and mitigation of enviromental and social inequities that result from the march of capitalism, the State, the development impaerative are championed. The authors are uptodate on data but have not incorporated some of the theoretical challenges to the political philosophies of development as a modernization project and the occlussion of political project of underdevelopment by concentrating on "tinkering " with minor problems of development and environment.

Considering that Nepal is 152 among the 173 countries in Human Development Index after 40 years of development, one must wonder why we do not question the whole philosophy of development which is the biggest vehicle of social change in Nepal.

It is also questionaable why the authors fail to adequately problematize one of the most inequitable societies in the world and the implication of development aid actually promoting underdevelopment of Nepal throught the capture of the State by the urban and social elite who belong to the privileged upper castes of nepal.

If the West continues to follow the political philosophies outlined in ths book, as it no doubt will, we can expect more social polarization, more underdevelopment, more unhappiness, and more destruction of Nepal's environment.

Reviewed by Amulya Tuladhar Clark university, USA


*********************************************************************************************** To: From: To: Subject: Women in Hinduism

Dear Editor,

     I would like to express a few thoughts regarding the articles 'Women in Hinduism' by Mr. Pramod Mishra. It seems he comes from different Nepal than I come from. I am pretty amazed by his assessment of women's position in our hindu society. I am not proposing that there is no problem and every thing is milk and honey. However I must object to his incoherent and out of context statements on women's position in our society as pure nonsense. I would like to challenge Mr. Mishra to walk with me in different parts of Nepal - Kathmandu, Terai, Pahad etc. and observe objectively the real situation of women in Nepal, both good and bad. Let me show Mr. Mishra Nepalese women going about doing their business, talking, working, laughing, worrying, singing, querreling, dancing, etc. Let me also show him our loving sisters, mothers, wives, daughters, and sweet hearts. Let him show a single cowering, slavish women who are not even allowed to laugh.

     The articles only shows profound ignorance of Mr. Mishra regarding basic terms like 'Hinduism', 'Hindu society',
'Brahmanism', 'Economic and Political power', etc. It also shows his lack of understanding the historical evolution of hindu society as per different internal and external pressures, not to forget ecological and economic imperatives. We also have to keep in mind that ours is not a uniform monolithic society but rather collection of many subgroups with widely different traditions, values and behavior patterns; not to forget the complexities arising out of the interaction among such a various groups and subgroups. Besides we do not have any central authority on our religious or social issues like churches. Our system works similar to Adam Smith's unseen hand of market, where many individual decisions and attitudes slowly creates a social norm. Thus whom do we blame for obvious problem (or credit for felicity) ? That is, we have no choice but to isolate a particular counterproductive strain of social behavior and correct it (and reinforce the good one), rather than wholesale condemnation of so called 'Hinduism'.

     Another basic mistake Mr. Mishra commits is the confusing the frame of references. Surely Mr. Mishra would agree with me that social values in the times of Ramayana is different from today. In another hand where do you find a society where ideal condition of perfect equality between gender has achieved (there are also cases where female gender is decidedly dominant), other than as a pie in sky. You cannot compare a real social condition with an imaginary ideal one. It is not to minimize present real problem or use of ideal as a social goal. In my opnion the effort should be directed toward recognition and amelioration of problem, than condemnation of unrelated institution and fostering hate. Perhaps more healthier approach would be to compare Nepalese real social condition with other real social condition, for example social condition in USA. Perhaps we can learn a lot, how to enhance good and avoid bad behavior, with due respect to the economic, educational and cultural differences. Perhaps Mr. Mishra might like to compare the statistics on percentage of income, education along with divorces, rapes and children out of wedlock. It is not to criticise the present American society, but merely to state that a real condition may be compared with another real condition. Again the definition of so called ideal condition also may change with time. Perhaps some time in future there may be a demand for freeing female sexuality out of the boundary of marriage. If that occurs how would you react Mr. Mishra ?

     An ancient poet wrote 'Women's character and men's destiny are unpredictable'. So, what do you want to make of it ? Is it a gospel truth ? God's revelation ? A great hindu Mantra ? Does all the hindus goes around chanting this sloka ? After all this is one poet's one expression. From this poetic expression, who says and how do you conclude - 'She is not human being like man ... She is mere flesh ... Her character arises out of her sexual organ ... She is reduced by Hinduism to her meat ...' ? What a nonsense.

     In our culture most of the women in the four days of menstruation period stays secluded and does not do household work, sort of a vacation from house work. The reason may have to do with hygiene or simply associating menstruation as unclean. But this amazing Mr. Mishra writes 'When our mother has period, we forget about our mother's sex and her blood ... we declare her an untouchable, to see her face on such occasions makes our bad day ...'. In our culture when a young girls gets her first period, she is kept secluded for about nine to twelve days, where her female friends will keep her company and they engage in all kind of games and plays. In the last day she goes through some religios rites accompanied with a small celebration/feast and then she returns to her normal life. This system is a marker of her coming of age. Now on she is no longer a girl but a maiden fully capable of bearing children. This practice actually helps her to take a time out and reduce the trauma of her first period and related physical changes. Her status actually goes up in her family as now on she will be considered an adult. Now, on this issue amazing Mr. Mishra writes 'For to see her face would bring the greatest calamity on earth. The girl, who emerges out of this trauma never recovers her self-esteem for life, always considering herself the polluting creature on earth'. Mr. Mishra deserves Ph.D. for his ability of making a complete nonsense out of sensible things.

     I am not done yet. Rest for next letter.
     Thanks and regards. Sincerely yours, Tilak B.Shrestha.

*************************************************************** Date: Sat, 30 Jul 1994 09:20:01 EDT To: Subject: Nepal Strengthens fight against drugs with Master Plan From: ([Master of the Universe])

____________________________________________ NEPAL STRENGTHENS FIGHT AGAINST DRUGS WITH MASTER PLAN

KATHMANDU (Depthnews) (28 JULY 1994) -- Despite the government's efforts to get
 rid of illegal drugs, trafficking in and abuse of these substances, as well as their r esultant social and political problems, persist in Nepal.

Shere Bahadur Deupa, Nepal's Home Minister, admits that the problems of drug tr afficking and abuse, especially among the young, are difficult to combat.

However, he stressed that this Himalayan Kingdom is determined to solve the pro blems.

"His Majesty's determined to banish illegal narcotic drug traff icking," Mr. Deupa said. "Nepal would never be allowed to be used as a transit point for dr ug trafficking".

But he warned that, despite this determination, the task is not going to be eas y.

"Everything takes time. Results of our actions in this regard will also take t ime. There is no other way you can prevent people from abusing drugs other than by creating soci al awareness about this malaise affecting us," the minister said.

Towards this goal, the country is implementing a Master Plan to fight the drug menace. "The objective of the Master Plan is to control and subsequently reduce the disrupti ve effects on individuals, families and communities and the social fabric of society caused b y drug abuse and criminal activites connected with illicit trafficking in drugs," according to J errold Berke, former resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in N epal.

The UNDP helped in the preparation of the Master Plan and the detailed action p lan. UN officials here said the UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), which is the lead UN organization in dealing with the drug problem, is supporting the Master Plan ov er the next five years to strengthen administration, eliminate illicit cultivation and productio n of drugs, and expand treatment and rehabilitation services.

"There are two major components of the Master Plan," explains Sri Kant Regmi, s pokesman for the Nepal's Home Ministry. "One is to control supply by improving law enforcem ent and legal assistance, and the second is demand reduction by strengthening treatment and r ehabilitation facilities."

Under an agreement signed July 9, 1992, UNDCP provided US$977,000. Of this amo unt,
$534,000 went into the formulation and implementation of the Master Plan while US$443 was allocated for rehabilitation facilities."

The Home Ministry distrubuted funds to 13 non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
 for programmes aimed at reducing demand. But Kathmandu's vernacular weeklies charg ed that the funds were made available for political purposes rather than for drug-related a ctivities.

Although Ministry officials have denied the charge, they do not seem to have an y idea how the NGOs which received government funds spent the money. It was also reported tha t 10 of the 13 NGOs that received state funds had not even renewed their official registration
 at the time tey received the grant.

One critic said charlatans and self-seekers had made great inroads into the are a of anti-drug activities in Nepal while government has not taken any step to meet the needs o f individual drug addicts.

"Our current needs are not fiscal but moral", argues Father Thomas E. Gafney, a
 Nepali Jesuit who has devoted himself to the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts. " The troubled individuals who are the proper objects of these dubious activites are simply di sregarded. Who will deliver us from these injustices?" asks Father Gafney who also runs the Fr eedom Centre, a residential treatment centre for troubled drug users in Lalitpur near Kathmandu

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